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The European trans-Atlantic slave trade took off 10 centuries later, in Some of the seminar participants affirmed that while the trans-Atlantic slave trade lasted for four centuries , the trans-Saharan slave trade continued for 17 centuries There were similarities between the slave trades. And some European scholars supported the trans-Atlantic slave trade by making copious references to the book of Genesis in the Bible. Consequently, slavery was not the product of racism.

However, racism was one consequence of slavery. The participants agreed that both slave routes were responsible for the migration of millions of Africans to other parts of the world. The statistics of deported Africans remain highly controversial among scholars. Silences Two issues were not given prominence by the participants: women slaves and male castration.

The perpetuation of African slaves was fundamentally assured by women slaves who were indiscriminately coupled to men without their consent. Castration of numbers of male slaves by Arab merchants was a prominent feature of the trans-Saharan slave trade. Castrated male slaves were purchased by rich Arab kings and princes and employed as security agents to protect harems where their wives and concubines were caged. Slavery creates permanent violent conflicts between the slave and the master.

Salah Trebelsi, a historian at the University of Lyon in France, gave a graphic description of revolts by African slaves in Iraq between the seventh and the ninth centuries.

Trans-Saharan trade

A common feature across papers was the perpetuation and preservation of modified African cultures, religions, medicine and music by descendants of African slaves in Arab and Muslin countries. The Sahara was in Africa. One of the principal activities of its people, trans-Saharan commerce, tied Saharans to sub-Saharan, "black" Africa. In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, European powers pushed by anti- slavery movements in England were growing more and more 'abolitionist' in their rhetoric, if not their policies.

Consequently, imaging needs to be understood both as a fonction of merging cultural literary traditions and as a response to contemporary abolitionist rhetoric. It is in this conceptual arena that we will locate the origins of our understanding of the trans-Saharan slave trade. Emergent Discourses.

Abolitionism and the Orient. Maie slaves were destined for Middle Eastern armies. In simultaneously superimposing the abolitionist and the orientalist discourses on the Sahara, Buxton effecti- vely created a new 'reality' that resonated with his audiences, public and political, because it was rooted in language and images they understood and accepted. A generalized hostility to Islam and Muslims was articulated in stories portraying 'the orient' as lasciviously sensual, sexually depraved, ruthlessly despotic and inherently violent and cruel.

This 'orient' came to be defined as any place that was Islamic— North Africa and especially Egypt , the central Ottoman territories, Persia, even India. The harem with its eunuch guards as painted, poeticized and narrated epitomized the exotic personality of the East. In theory, a traveler traveled in order to learn; in fact a pre-determined discourse limited what the nineteenth-century Western observer saw in the East: he and increasingly she , had already made the journey before setting foot outside of Europe.

Said's concept of orientalism merged with romanticism and the possibility of adventure. India was such an arena for the imaginations of nineteenth-century British poets. His poems were praised for having the quality of historical "truth", and for being the "finest orientalism literature so far From the staring wildness of their eyes, a stranger would immediately set them down as a nation of lunatics. The treachery and malevolence of their character are manifested in their plundering excursions against the Negro villages".

In fact, Park repeatedly made much of the "fanatic" Moors' proclivity to murder, theft and cruelty, as well as their hatred of Christians and their belief in the superiority of Islam. Invoking almost every 'orientalist' of the day, Park continued:.


  • The trans-Saharan slave trade / John Wright.
  • Background.
  • The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade;

Cut off from ail intercourse with civilized nations, The issue of traveling in 'Muslim disguise' was much debated prior to their trip and in the end, they had been forced to be 'openly European'. When Clapperton succumbed to illness and died while under the protection of the Sultan of Sokoto, it was readily believed that this behaviour was typical of a Muslim, cunning and untrustworthy. He wrote of an important tribe as "an extensive Arab tribe where [sic] life is devoted to hunting, rapine and war and [who] from this constant vigilance are the terror of travelers" The founding of the African Association in was about 'casting light upon darkness' in the British national interest: 'casting light' meant and mapping, and national interest meant wealth.


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  • Slavery Now: The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade in the Sudan.
  • The Trans-Saharan Slave Trade.

The perception of Africa that drew Park and others into the interior was articulated by the Association committee member who wrote of Timbuktu: "Gold is there so plentiful, as to adorn even the slaves The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in , and from that time, it lobbied effectively for a political ending to the slave trade. Indeed slavery and the slave trade became something of a literary genre, attracting the most talented and talentless of the late eighteenth century poets and novelists.

The anti-slavery writers created a pseudo- African to dwell in a pseudo Africa. Counter to the 'beastly savage' of the slavers was the 'noble savage' of the anti-slavery romances". If "abolitionist literature was being produced and consumed on an unpre- cedented scale" 27, so too was its iconography. The campaign was effective in Britain, bringing about the abolition of the slave trade in Immediately following, attention turned to promoting similar action on the part of foreign powers.

By the s it was clear that the treaties and diplomacy had not succeeded in reducing the Atlantic trade; on the contrary, it appeared to be growing. For many abolitionists, it seemed the only way slavery could be brought to an end was by out-right abolition. Just as initial efforts had succeeded by raising public awareness with stories of the horrors of the trade, the continuing campaign also utilized ail forms of printed publicity, bolstered by an active schedule of local lectures.

Indeed, many members like Buxton were themselves leading advocates of abolition. Africa was to become both producer of raw materials and consumer of British- manufactured goods ; the thousands of former slaves were to be the wage- workers who would do both, produce and consume. Even Clapperton and Denham's identification of a specifically "Saharan" slave trade can only be understood in this context.

The explorers' concerns were not abolitionist initially. They were interested in promoting trade with the wealthy interior of Africa consistent with earlier goals and became convin- ced that the region's slave-producing raids were counter-productive. Arabs and "Mohammedan" Slavery. Although Buxton would soon subsume the 'Saharan' to the "African" trade, Clapperton and Denham's description of a desert-based 'Arab trade' dovetailed with a dialogue on slavery and abolition initiated with the in the mid- s First, conti- nuing to operate in the dichotomized ideological straightjacket fashioned by the Christian abolitionists, Britain responded by creating 'Mohammedan' slavery in the image of its conceptions of Hebrew and African slavery.

The difBculty of dispensing with female slaves in the Harems necessarily exis- ting in Mohemmedan countries, appears Britain's obsession with slave treatment in the Atlantic commerce conditioned much of the discussion, 39 but the. He warns scholars of the danger of "[falling] into the fallacy of 'imaging the 'Other'.. Abolitionism is not a universally 'natural' reaction to slavery". Even within the Ottoman heart- land, reformist officiais supported the suppression of the trade "in much the same discourse as the British and French. In almost ail cases, one can observe a fascinating cultural translation of Western-phrased opposition to slaves into Ottoman, indeed Islamic terms".

Each argued, in this context, that Islam's attitude to slavery had to be understood as an historical process, one that first mitigated against inhumane treatment of enslaved heathens and ultimately, worked to end slaving and slavery alto- gether. It was hotly debated. The 'West' had effectively defined and appropriated what was to be debated and how — even within Ottoman and North African intellectual and literary circles.

The trade in slaves into Ottoman territories also drew abolitionists' to north- African trans-Saharan termini. The 'anti-Arab' Consul-General Warrington in was entrusted with inducing the "Moorish Chiefs to give up themselves and to prevent other persons from continuing the practice of procuring slaves for exportation from Tripoli to the Levant".

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Richardson returned to travel in the Sahara in , again at the behest of the abolitionists. His copious, "highly coloured reports about the volume and mortality involved in the [slave] traffic From the s through the s, the "attack" on the Saharan trade was fought from Tripoli and Morocco, as well as Ottoman Turkey. Even one of the most respected sources of 'scientific' meaning objective information, Heinrich Barth , became converted to the cause while in Africa.

He advocated for some form of colonization not unlike Buxton as part of the 'remedy' to the trade. Reporter brought Morocco into the European limelight and kept it there. Reports of hawking slaves in the streets, stealing young children from their mothers and castrating boys soon generated Anti-Slavery Society commissions to seek out even more information that could be used to force Parliament to take action.

While the Consul in Tan- giers thought slaves were better off than poor peasants in hard times, and concubines in harems were comparable to poor girls in Europe forced to sell themselves, the one in Mazagan fed the abolitionists' rhetoric enthusias- tically. The catalyst in broadening public awareness and intensifying public outrage was David Livingstone, a young missionary who had himself been enlightened and inspired by Buxton's speeches.

Henry Morton Stanley's much publicized search for Livingstone reinforced this image: "evil Arab slave traders were part of the obstacles along with swamps, deadly diseases and fevers, crocodile attacks and so on that made his trip ail the more a triumph". Livingstone's publications also contributed to the ail-important ico-.

His account included a lithograph of a slave caravan "Gang of Captives met at Mbame's on their way to Tette" that captured the pathos of the situation. Images attached ominous Arabs' to a romanticized Africa', to the cruel slave trade, and to the suffe- ring, pitiful female and child slaves. Images gave discourse the substance its nineteenth-century audience sought. Resurrections and Resonance. Below, I will argue that we can see both content and process reflected in changing political and national contexts during the twentieth century. What is especially valuable about examining the selected texts below in light of the analysis presented above is the degree to which otherwise obscure if not invisible linguistic and conceptual templates thereby reveal themselves.

Gold and Slaves : the Sahara of E. Whenever and wherever the trans-Saharan trade is mentioned, E. A zone of trading towns occupied by people "who made an outward display of Muslim culture but at heart had strong pagan sympathies [separated] Young men and women were carried off to slave markets but grown men were "massacred in cold blood". Although the horrors of this traffic were not as bad as those of the Atlantic trade, attention was drawn to the "particularly hideous branch" of the trade in eunuchs.

Quoting the British colonial administrator, Lord Lugard: "It is the most serious charge against Islam in Africa that it has encouraged and given religious sanction to slavery"'. What did receive more attention was the slave trade: from the earliest moments of trans-Saharan exchange "gold and slaves, slaves and gold provided the of the trade of the Maghreb with the Sudan". Never before had the gold and slaves so much needed in the north been in such abundant supply The trans-Saharan trade in gold and slaves being the life blood of a score or more of the Barbary ports and the sources of wealth of thousands of prosperous merchants, the Western Sudan was regar- ded in the Maghreb as an Eldorado In Caravans, Bovill had argued that the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade and the hatred that that trade engendered had effectively 'veiled' Africa from Europeans.

The new prominence given to the slave trade carried through to the of abolition and colonization. Ironically, the 'first' commodity in the nineteenth century was no longer gold but sait, and this was the resuit of European-driven Atlantic trade. Its unfortunate begin- nings in the slave trade had, thanks to abolition, been superceded by the development of cheap, modem sea and rail traffic that now allowed for the growth of legitimate commerce, like the importation of European salts.

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Trans-Saharan Slave TradeBy John Wright | Journal of Islamic Studies | Oxford Academic

The Arabs and Tuareg could no longer buy slaves to cultivate their oases. Moreover, in a. Fulani enri- ched by the jihad: "[were] surrounded by slaves, eunuchs and concubines", raided their pagan neighbours long after there was religious justification and, growing too "feeble" to do even that, "descended to enslaving their own peasantry" But like many nineteenth-century accounts, this example of investigative journalism had wide popular distribution. Like his 'predecessors' as Maugham envisa- ged them , on his return to England he addressed the Anti-Slavery Society, met with politicians and even spoke in the House of Lords about the 'pro- blem' of modern-day slavery.